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Driving in Las Alpujarras

Hairpin bends and hair-raising driving is what you get In Las Alpujarras – especially when aiming for the beautiful, whitewashed villages of Pampaneira, Bubión and Capileira (altitude = 1436 metres). Even the last 40 minute drive from Málaga towards Órgiva has its moments. But Spanish roads are well-maintained (you often see teams clearing rockfalls off the … Continue reading

Stuff we find: A town reborn

This film is called ‘Medieval Spanish ghost town becomes self-sufficient ecovillage’ and has English subtitles. It couldn’t be much further from Andalucia – it’s in northern Spain in a place called Lakabe in Navarra (Nafarroa in Basque). As the film explains, Lakabe was rediscovered in 1980 by a group of people living nearby who had lost … Continue reading

Veal meat from the face – El Pimpi, Málaga

On holiday we’re never quite sure if places we end up are aimed at tourists or where the locals go  – or a bit of both (and don’t they say a restaurant full of locals, no matter how dour or unexciting a place looks, is the place to eat?). Guidebooks can help point the culinary … Continue reading

To be, or not to be

(Speak any Spanish? If so, you may as well read something else!) With language, one of the first things you learn – apart from ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ –  is ‘to be’: I am a nun; we are from Finland; are you hungry? and so on. In Spanish there are two verbs for to be: ser and … Continue reading

Supermercado Sweep

We’ve only been to a large supermarket twice in Spain and both times it was Al Campo outside Motril on our way to Órgiva. We have no idea whether we’ve been to the Spanish equivalent of the Co-Op or Waitrose. All we know is, it’s gigantic – an aircraft hanger-sized space of the usual stuff, … Continue reading

Ernest Hemingway never set foot in this place – Key West, Florida

This is from a trip one of us took in 2007. A side dish to this blog. Bones I look for Joe Russell’s grave – ‘Sloppy’ Joe – fisherman, cigar maker and rumrunner. But Key West cemetery is a big place (75,000 bodies) and the white, flaking tombs are mostly above ground due to the high … Continue reading

Spain – by Jan Morris (book)

Ten years ago we read a book by Jan Morris – Venice – a love letter to one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. It’s all you need to know about the place. At the time of reading it seemed to be a contemporary book but was, in fact, written in 1960 – which shows how … Continue reading

Hotel Monte Victoria – Málaga

One of us is obsessed with wells (must be linked to a childhood nightmare about falling down one) and Hotel Monte Victoria in Málaga has a cracking one – with a grill on top. So the morning ritual was: shower, two-minute stare down the well (dropping a stone down it, obviously) and breakfast in the … Continue reading

Romeria del Rocío – a pilgrimage

Every year, in May or June, an extraordinary event happens in Andalucia. Thousands of people – many on horseback or in brightly-coloured wagons (carretas) pulled by oxen – descend on Almonte in the province of Huelva as part of a mass pilgrimage/knees-up. And all because of a metre-high, carved birch statue of the Virgin of El Rocío. In … Continue reading

Tortas de Aceite

It didn’t take long for us to discover the delicious Tortas de Aceite – olive oil biscuits (or wafers, flatbreads, crispy things) – made in and around Seville for over 100 years. Our first taste of them was at La Casa Grande. In London, we look out for them – they can be found. It’s easy to … Continue reading

The English Cemetery, Málaga

“Fear no more the heat o’ the sun” One baking day we went for a walk – and got lost. Having been to a tapas fair hosted in the Plaza de Torres (bull ring), we ended up in a residential area to the east of the city. A woman took pity on us, led us through her … Continue reading

La Casa Grande – Arcos de le Frontera

In 2011 we visited Arcos de le Frontera in the west of Andalucia, in the province of Cádiz. We’d been staying in Olhão in Portugal and drove across to Spain, stopping at Seville on the way. Our main memory was slowly driving through the absurdly-narrow streets – followed by a procession of honking cars. No time to … Continue reading

A Late Dinner – by Paul Richardson (book)

This 2007 book – A Late Dinner: Discovering the Food of Spain – was written as a travelogue by journalist Paul Richardson. He travels all over Spain detailing the regional food and ingredients he finds, taking the reader past the clichés of paella and gazpacho (delicious as they are) to other food – dishes that … Continue reading

Spanish Steps – learning the language

An important part of our year in Spain (perhaps longer) is learning to speak the language. One of us has the advantage of being a natural linguist who can speak decent French – so ‘gets’ Spanish more. The other, on the other hand got 9% in his Latin school exam and in French failed a … Continue reading

Donkey for sale (78 miles on the clock)

Where we come from, people sell old cars, ice-cream makers, bicycles, keep-fit equipment and so on. When we were first in Orgiva we saw this advert in the local Tabac near the church. This sweet burrito (‘little donkey’) is looking for a home.  So if you know someone… By the way, if you’re a smoker you … Continue reading